The 3 days 3 nights Adventist Youth Conference (AYC) was held in the Arrow on Swanston, where one of the Melbourne gateway church branches worship each week. With an audience of over 200 youths, including those from 12 years old to the ripe age of 60, and a solid team of speakers, the conference started on Friday afternoon, with a talk by Pastor Pavel Goia. The introductory pastoral message was an insightful and humorous talk, bringing in the experiences which strengthened the pastor’s life with God and emphasised on how important God is in the life of an Adventist youth. Other speakers included Justin Kim (who talked each morning), Gary Blanchard and Louis Torres.
Workshops started on Saturday, however, we could only attend two workshops per person due to time limitations (they were over 3 hours each!) I chose the workshop on “Adventist Identity and Ellen G White” and “Failing your way into success”. Both were much better than I expected, bringing in evidence and justifying their opinions on the topics. The “Adventist Identity..” workshop was held by Justin Torrosian. This workshop explained some of our beliefs (as founded by Ellen White) and explained some proofs of Ellen’s ability to have visions. Many people were sceptical of her visions as it was and still is not a common occurrence.
Perhaps the most interesting part was explaining how the proof used against Ellen White were proven to be false when examined with an unbiased eye. For example, her words were commonly misquoted and taken to mean what it is not. Ellen White once criticised people for buying bicycles, which were at the time a luxury item. Her words were misquoted or cut off to make it seem like she was criticising those who had a bicycle, which is not the case. Instead, she was criticising the expenditure on an unnecessary and impractical luxury item, which was worth a year’s wages at the time. Another ‘proof’ used against her is that her visions were part of a medical condition (seizure). However, a team of neurologists came together to discuss the symptoms of her visions and declared that they do not match those of any mental problem. In addition, her words always make sense and are good words of advice.
“Failing your way into success” was run by Boris Jovinov. He had many interesting experiences to share, such as of how he was assigned as a pastor to a remote area, and spent much time and resources to invite residents in the area to the church, yet only succeeded in getting 18 of them in 3 years. However, he said, failure is part of a learning experience and you can only get better. He also talked at length about Jonah, and how the story of Jonah is actually the most successful evangelistic campaigns of all time. It was interesting to know the details of how he reached success, through a series of failures – running away, trying to die (get thrown overboard), getting swallowed by a fish. And when he did finally obey God out of frustration (that he couldn’t skip this mission!), he was met with success, which he did not expect. This was also due to God’s leading – getting spat out by a fish, which was also one of the ‘gods’ worshiped by people in Nineveh was a clever plot.
The most memorable part of the event was when teams who went to the streets to outreach (taking surveys and handing out flyers to an evangelistic talk) brought their experiences of the people they met, and how they were successful in bringing one or two interested in God and our Adventist church (in Melbourne). One particular story that stood out to me was of a group of ladies who met another lady on the streets, and as they were talking, they found out that she had left home due to abuse and had nowhere to go. They were able to make a few phone calls and find a safe place for her to stay, while also inviting her to their church. I also liked the story of how another team was explaining to a mom and her son how the church’s sabbath and Friday night meetings would not interfere with the son’s studies. They talked about another friend’s improvement in his studies after he joined their care group, and they instantly had a new member! Overall, it was quite positive to know how willing people were to stop and listen.
If you haven’t experienced it before, the AYC is worth going to. The talks are long but insightful and the speakers were quite humorous as well, making the talks a lot better than other conferences I’ve been to. People of all ages are welcome to attend. In fact, the three 12 year old girls who attended were able to collect 1/5th of the surveys from the outreach session.
You can see the recordings of the program by going here (link shortened): https://bit.ly/38fnpWa
At the end of the program, we were told briefly about the future mission programs which AYC intends to hold later this year. You can find them here: https://ayc.life/ayc-mission-2020/